Sometimes the biggest news is when there isn’t news. The possibility of no news, ever, would be in itself newsworthy. But when you see “news,” feeling like it should be more newsworthy? Like you should feel more?
Bonds Junior tested positive for steroids in 2000 or 2001, or both, suggest newly-public U. S. court documents. Did this surprise someone? I suppose so. Did it surprise me? Not too much. Despite “innocent until proven guilty,” true proof is outside the court’s powers to produce. Only numbers could do so, sterile theorems mostly useless in the outside world. So we look for guilt beyond (hopefully one specific) threshold of doubt. Suspicion of Bonds didn’t begin this week, though. There’s something inside us which doesn’t need proof. The bigger it is in some given person, the less this “news” is news to them. The opposite is true too.
I resented Bonds before he hit his seven hundred fifty-sixth home run. The erosion of the long-term record did not offend but unsettle me. Someone I’d seen compete, up there with the historic legends? It didn’t seem possible.
Why did I resent him, then? He could outslug history without truly upsetting me. But he’d outshone the heroes who first drew me to the sport too. Then, he’d crossed some line. He couldn’t help being the best (or could he?), but neither did I try to stop my petty scorn.
In the Wheel of Time series of novels, five youths set out from their tiny home of Emond’s Field. In the first book, we find out three of them wield the “One Power.” Subsequent books tell us their strength is the most seen in centuries. But following those books comes the knowledge of even more powerful people. With the glut of new monikers to remember, the series got more difficult to enjoy. The problem included this disillusionment; with the lines between countries blurred, more prodigies could be discovered. Old rules of the mystic forces governing the universe were no longer true.
To the extent of destroying outmoded ideologies, this is fine. But when this process infringes upon your own memories, dimming them, then it’s fine for you to criticize it. For the Wheel of Time people, it built up to the end of the world they’d known. For me, it could turn me vindictive, looking for excuses for Bonds’ success. They were duly found. But did I truly seek them?
Roger Clemens joined Bonds in the “news” which might not be. The list of suspects is long enough if not more. It includes my onetime heroes. Some retire without getting close to Cooperstown. Others would like to return; I roll my eyes. So when I noticed those records, I did feel some emotion I don’t enjoy feeling. My belief in old sluggers is strong. My belief in innocence is even stronger.